Domingo, 25 Junio, 2017

What Trump's Air Traffic Control Decision Really Means

President Trump speaks before signing two bills last week at the White House President Trump speaks before signing two bills last week at the White House
Malita Javier | 20 Junio, 2017, 11:25

The Federal Aviation Administration spends almost $10 billion a year on air traffic control funded largely through passenger user fees, and has about 28,000 air traffic control personnel.

Larsen noted that flights at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are running more efficiently because of NextGen, and said billions of dollars' worth of benefits to the airline industry could be at risk.

To cut down on those delays, the Federal Aviation Administration has been rolling out new systems to replace outdated radar navigation and radio communication with modern GPS and digital communications.

Critics also fear government bureaucracy.

President Trump said this morning that he would push for privatization of Air Traffic Control, taking the almost 30,000 employees from under the authorization of the FAA in what is referred to as his "Air Traffic Control Reform Initiative".

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The air traffic controllers' union is generally supportive of the proposal, as it sees the current FAA air traffic control system as somewhat inefficient.

Trump made his remarks June 5 in a White House speech kicking off what has been described as "Infrastructure Week", a week when the president will propose numerous infrastructure programs.

Opponents claim that handing over air traffic control assets, including towers, to a private organization is risky.

He said the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which now tracks air traffic is outdated and inefficient.

So far, a new bill to match Trump's announcement has not been rolled out. Calling previous efforts to update systems a "waste of money", Trump said, "Honestly, they didn't know what the hell they were doing".

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Democrats have also pointed to the unprecedented safety under the current system and noted repeated computer system failures in recent years by US airlines, questioning whether they are ready to handle complex technology modernizations.

The privatization idea isn't new: The airline industry has been pushing for it since the 1980s, and the Clinton administration proposed a similar privatization scheme to Trump's in 1994.

What is wrong with the current air traffic control system?

"While the FAA operated the system every day in 2016 without any widespread glitches, it was the airlines that failed to manage their own IT systems, with large-scale disruptions on at least 15 occasions", Reps.

Privatization has long had strong support among the nation's airlines, and has been advocated for years by Republicans, who typically favor it over big government. The FAA would still provide safety oversight.

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The union representing the air traffic control workers said in a statement that they will review the details of the proposal before deciding to support the plan or not. Union leaders say controllers are exhausted of working with outdated equipment and are concerned about government shutdowns and furloughs.

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